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Blogging 201, Day Seven: Broadcast Your Brand

Today’s Assignment: pick one social network you’ll use to help grow your blog and connect it to your site in at least one way.

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While you’ve been doing a great job putting your special brand on your site so far, we don’t live in isolation — and neither does your blog. Making use of other social networks spreads your brand to new and bigger circles of potential fans. Because the internet is a vast playground, you’ll want to choose where and how to focus your energies.

Today’s Assignment: pick one social network you’ll use to help grow your blog and connect it to your site in at least one way.

Why do this?

  • Because word-of-mouth is still the best way to gain readers, so making it easy for you and your readers to share your posts on social networks can produce a lot of bank for your blogging bucks.
  • Because there’s a world of potential new fans beyond WordPress.com (or Tumblr, or Blogger), and using social networks helps you find them.

Tomorrow, we’ll get into the nitty gritty of creating a strong presence on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest; for today, let’s take care of the basics — getting connected.

Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, oh My!

Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn…where to start? A big brand might use every single one, but a big brand also has a fully-staffed social media department. You have the Department of You, so  being selective makes more sense.

Each network has a different “feel,” a different demographic, and different strengths. One good way to start is to check out blogs similar to yours (or that you admire and think are doing a good job). What networks do they use? If you’re already a member of one of these networks, pay closer attention to what others are sharing there and what your friends are chatting about.

Broadly speaking, Facebook and Instagram are good for parenting, lifestyle, and personal blogs, Twitter is more technically-inclined and useful for pop culture and current events blogs, and Pinterest is great for blogs with tutorials and lots of images, particularly food and craft blogs. LinkedIn is ideal if your blog is for your business. That being said, there are no hard-and-fast rules. There’s a thriving food blog community on LinkedIn, and lots of writers using Pinterest who’ve never publish an image.

There’s a bit of trial-and-error involved here, so do some investigation, pick a network that feels like a good fit, and give it a whirl. We’ll look at how to create blog-specific pages for Facebook tomorrow.

Make the Connections

Once you’ve chosen a network, the next step is making it easy for you and your readers to share your stuff and find you there. On WordPress.com there are a variety of tools for making these connections. Implement at least one of these on your blog today.

Sharing Buttons are an easy way to encourage readers to share your posts without being pushy. They’re simply there at the bottom of the post, making themselves available but being cool about it. Here’s what they look like on my personal blog:

sharing

You’re probably using these already, but if not, visit Settings → Sharing and scroll down to Sharing Buttons. Drag in the services you’d like to have displayed, order them however you’d like, edit the heading, and presto! You can also choose from different button styles — I like the colorful round icons, presented in order of hue to satisfy my more anal tendencies, but there are monochromatic and text versions as well. A bit further down, you’ll see a field to enter your Twitter handle; if you do, your handle will be included when a reader shares the post to Twitter.

(Many themes, like Fictive, Gallery, Stay, and Profile, have built-in graphics to link your blog to your social media profiles, too. If you theme includes theme, be sure to use them — look under Appearance → Theme Options.)

Setting up Publicize automates the act of  sharing new posts to your networks. Your posts get shared on your networks as soon as you hit publish. You can use it to connect to Google+, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, and Path. You’ll also find this on the  Settings → Sharing page. (If you have a self-hosted WordPress set, you can add Publicize with the Jetpack plugin.) Click connect next to a service, authorize the connection, and it’s ready to go:

publicize

These custom image widgets tie in perfectly with the blogger's header, and let her highlight her networks without adding visual clutter.

These custom image widgets tie in perfectly with the blogger’s header, and let her highlight her networks without adding visual clutter.

Finally, sidebars are also a useful place to plug your social networking presence. There are two ways to bring social networks into the sidebar:

Maximizing Publicize

If you’ve activated a Publicize connection, you’re off to a good start. There are other elements to keep in mind that can maximize the effectiveness of publicize.

First, you’ll want to customize the text that gets shared with your post. The default is your post title, which is fine, but feels automated. Customizing the text that gets shared shows the person behind the Publicize and lets you throw in a little more enticement.

When you’re drafting a post, you’ll see your social networks listed by the Publish button. If you click “Edit,” you can control which networks you share to and the message you share. The nifty thing about Publicize is that it will automatically put in a link to your post for you, saving you the time needed for what we call “copy pasta.” (Yes, pasta. Mmmm…pasta.)

day7-4

Note: Right now, the same message is shared to every network you select. If you’re sending your post to Facebook and Twitter but want two separate statuses, deselect one and share it manually.

Take this opportunity to tease readers about your post. Add a relevant hashtag or “@” mention to bring it to people’s attention. Ask a provocative question to entice viewers to click. For a great example to follow, check out how Andrea Badgley uses Twitter to share links to new posts on her blog, Butterfly Mind. Every tweet is original and well-crafted, designed to entice readers to visit.

Second, add an image (or featured image) to the post. This is what will appear with the link on Facebook, where an image does a lot to draw people’s attention to an item.

You all have differing levels of experience with these networks, so today is an especially great day to head to The Commons and pick one another’s brains!

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    1. I have a blog-specific account on both Twitter and Facebook. It’s a little tougher for anonymous bloggers because our Facebook like page (on the blog’s homepage) starts at 0. We don’t get the benefit of having your family and friends…

      I had actually deleted my like box early on but I eventually brought it back.

      Like

    2. I have a blog specific Twitter and Google+ page. I set them up with my blog’s email. I joined a couple of blogger groups on google plus and am slowly getting followers . Same with Twitter. Most bloggers will follow you back.

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    3. I’ve used blog-specific profiles before — less because I was anon and more because I was blogging in a particular niche. If you are going to go that route, you definitely want to start slowly, to make sure you can keep up with all the moving parts.

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      1. I have two blogs–one that’s “the real me”–that’s the one this comment is coming from–and one that’s under a pseudonym. I have: two FB, two Twitter, two….you get the idea….and I do feel a bit identity-confused from time to time. The tricky part is managing identities, i.e., remembering which blog I’m posting comments from. I’ve made some grievous errors! A friend who does something similar turned me on to the solution: use a different browser for each identity. That also solves the problem of having to sign out of Account A in order to post on Account B. So now I use Chrome for Laura P. Schulman at Bipolar For Life, and Firefox for Dina Leah at A Runaway Life (dinaleah.com). Kind of cumbersome, but it works.

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    4. I have a twitter/facebook/instagram for my blog. Initially I wanted to establish my blog’s brand and build my cred independently of my professional identity. Although I’ve merged my professional identity with my blog at this point, I still maintaing the seperate facebook, instagram and twitter accounts. In fact, I only have the blog’s twitter and instagram accounts.

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  1. I am on Twitter personally but am thinking of having a blog-specific Twitter account–this post has given me the nudge to start thinking about it more actively.

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  2. I have been adjusting my “sharing” options based on the topic of each post. For any career – related topics, I made sure they are connected to my linkedin site. Otherwise I only connected to twitter and Facebook sites.

    Thanks,

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  3. I have been using Twitter for a while, just re-started with Facebook, Google+ and now Tumblr.

    LinkedIn is too hard to separate from my job and offline identity, so I am going to avoid that for now. I would be the one to accidentally post on the wrong account. I do want to look at some buttons to highlight the services I have now, for sure 🙂

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    1. I have biz cards too just got them free thru Vista Print and starting to use them. Love your blog – especially the “thisisyourbestyear”. I think that if we all strive for that to be our mantra we’d make it the best year each year. Thanks for the reminder. 🙂

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      1. I’ve debated business cards for a year or more now. Can you tell if they have helped? I always feel a bit squidgy bringing up my blog to people. Handing them a business card feels less needy, I suppose.

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      2. I got business cards too. I agree with Kami, I haven’t given out too many. It feels too much like I have an agenda when I meet and talk with people. (Squidgy was a good word.) Going through Blogging 201 has given me that extra boost of confidence to hand out more cards. All part of the process of growing readership.

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    2. When I was a food blogger, I had cards. They’re especially helpful if you contemplating going to any blogging events, like conferences or meetups.

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  4. My blog is already connected to Twitter and Facebook. I periodically use Google+ and Pinterest. Looking at setting up another Twitter acct and Facebook just for blog as I will also be starting a new blog specifically for Insurance. I have a website already but it’s just on hold until I decide what to do with the blogs. I would welcome any suggestions from anyone out there as to what you would like to see on the insurance blog and on the current Ramblings blog that I have.
    Thanks in advance. Have a wonderful day 🙂 🙂

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  5. Customizing options are always great. Some rapid “Don’t make me think” readers surfing quickly do prefer the standard symbols – so it’s a toss up.
    Social networks do give a wider broadcast. Building a bigger audience faster is very important if you are an author, authority, or business. (Or want to get paid for hits on the blog by ads)
    One thing to consider is when you are highly visible in social networks, you may have a greater chance of having writing/photos “lifted” – without your name attached. Pictures do need to be watermarked /copyrighted. Photographs of children – be aware that there are recent cases of images of children being lifted for advertisements and other purposes without your knowledge.
    Once it’s out there, it’s out there without any control. (There is a take down demand process you can use if necessary)
    Social media is useful – with caution

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  6. Okay! I am already linked to Pinterest and Twitter, but have been playing around with Tumblr and haven’t linked that one yet (mainly because trying to figure out how frustrated me and I gave up). Maybe I’ll play around with that and possibly doing a custom image widget (which would be an excuse to play with PicMonkey which has also been on my list of things to try.

    But right now? Two kids crawling on me as I try to type – so I’m thinking this is a sign I should try this later….

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  7. I am a total Twitter noob. It’s like watching my mother try to use a computer. Entertaining, but very unproductive. Maybe we should group up and practice on each other before turning tweets loose! 😀

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    1. Totally in agreement with practicing tweets on one another before letting loose on the cyber-world. Wouldn’t mind some help with Pinterest while we are at it, either!

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      1. Pinterest I can help with! Both Twitter and Pinterest usernames are Mended Wheels, so let me know and I am happy to help out there! (When you search on PInterest just type in Mended Wheels. It might show posts, but right above the search box if you click “Pinners” you should find me. Or DUH you can click it on my site) *facepalm*

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      2. lol. i can give a twitter tutorial.
        considering i just fasted from it.. should tell you something about my usage! (and went from 6 accts to 4 accts!). lol.

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    2. If you’re using The Commons, I highly recommend you head there and pick Andrea Badgely’s brain — she’s got a post up there for anyone who wants to ask questions/talk more about using Twitter.

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      1. The Commons is a private blog for challenge participants to talk, meet one another, and ask questions. I’ve sent you an invitation, Dee. It should be waiting for you in your email.

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  8. Mended Wheels – I’m totally in agreement with practicing tweets on one another before letting loose on the cyber-world. I’s love some help with pinterest too!

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  9. Lori Ono – I have been trying to respond but apparently comment sections close – and no further commenting is allowed. Thank you for your response and it does help. I am still a bit baffled on my “brand” per se, but I’m working on it and your suggestions do help clarify.

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  10. Oh, how I “heart” Twitter! I am still learning how to effectively use it, but I’ve met other similar genre bloggers in a weekly tweet chat about horses. Fun stuff. I had not considered making a Twitter account with my blog’s name. I’ll have to mull that one over.

    Thanks for the practical advice!

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  11. I already have my blog connected to Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn. I’m curious about how to better use Pinterest to broadcast my blog? I try to always include a picture in each post, but other than that, how do people use Pinterest for their blogs?

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  12. I’ve found some success using Pinterest to share my blog. Of course I get to do Copy Pasta, but it’s not that much work and I feel more productive than when it’s automatic. Silly, I know. (I also use Facebook and have dipped my toes into the Twitter pond.) Feeling braver and may dive into some of the other options.

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  13. I use almost all of the social media platforms. I have had a lot of luck with Twitter, and Pinterest drives traffic to my blog daily. I do not have a Facebook account for my blog, but I don’t think I want one. I publicize on LinkedIn because I freelance and want people who view my profile to see my writing. And I use Google+, but don’t really get any shares there. After reading today’s assisgnment, I will create an Instagram account for my blog, which I was considering anyway.

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  14. Great post. As a result, I went to my dashboard and turned on the ‘publicize’ feature of Jetpack, BUT…when I tried to connect my blog to my blog’s Facebook page, it couldn’t because it said I was using FB as a ‘page.’ I don’t want my blog to connect to my personal FB account. Any solutions? Can I build a FB page for my blog as a person (if that makes any sense)?

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    1. You can create a fan page for your blog — you’ll administer it through your personal FB account, but it will be a totally separate FB entity. Then, when you connect Publicize, it will give you the option of connecting to your personal page or your fan page, and you’ll select the fan page. We’ll be getting into the nitty gritty of this tomorrow, fyi.

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  15. yay! how can I post something like “click here for ideas” and when someone clicks on it, it turns into an email or a box for them to submit stuff? Thanks!!

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  16. I am already using Twitter, tumblr and pinterest. But I have very few followers on these sites and the majority of my blog visitors come thru wordpress. I use the same post titles like on the blog. Maybe I should rework the titles of the posts on these sites, what do you think?

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    1. twitter teaches you to be succinct. you only have so many characters, so my publicize for a new post (which also goes to fb and g+) reads like this

      new #blog post! [title of post, condense if necessary] #relevanthashtag if about a topic or in this case #blogging201

      my posts are set for 10am, i rt around lunch and again in the evening. that formula has worked for me for the most part.

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  17. One of my initial goals was to increase the number of Instagram followers via the blog. I’ve got a sidebar widget I aptly named “InstaUpdate” and although successful, I’m really increasing traffic from Instagram to the blog with increased use of #hashtags. I never thought that that would make a big difference, but it definitely gets people looking at my bio, and more than likely, clicking through to the blog! I hope what I’ve accidentally discovered will help someone else!! Good luck blogging!

    Clare

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  18. I have set up links to my facebook, pinterest and twitter accounts and have set it up to post to all accounts. I think my posts are too long to grab attention quickly on these types of social media, but I really don’t have time to do separate posts for all. Are there any tips on getting your material onto these sites quickly and without constantly duplicating my work. My blog posts post on facebook as links but people tend to read them more there if I post them as facebook posts, but that was very time consuming and I had to post in parts. I am not sure really how suited these platforms are to the type of writing that I do. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

    http://justbeverity.wordpress.com/

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  19. I use Twitter @jrosemarie1, Pinterest, Facebook and to a lesser extent Tumblr. I have also started an instagram page but prefers Pinterest. Google+ was one of the first social network I used for my blog. But I find it a little confusing when I try to update my profile I end up creating a whole new one, which I don’t like.

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  20. Thanks for another great lesson! The Sharing Buttons section was particularly useful and I have gone to my settings to add buttons and change the button styles on my Frugality Wise blog. I’m happier with the look of the buttons now.

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  21. I already had Twitter & Facebook synced with my blog, however – I did decide to include my WordPress header on my Facebook page & Twitter.I feel much more “branded” now that they all match.

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    1. Good idea. I am using my cteachr twitter account, a blog page on F/B and cteachr for LinkedIn and G+. I guess I want to merge my blog to my professional life more and more. I like the idea of using a common header for all. I’ll check yours out.

      I do have a question about Twitter though. I don’t have many followers right now and I don’t tweet much except when I post to my blog or when I see something I want to retweet regarding education or a conference I am attending. So if I create a Twitter account just for my blog, how do I get more people to follow me?

      Looking forward to tomorrow’s lesson on F/B pages. Maybe that will at least answer some of my questions.

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      1. I created a facebook page for my blog specifically, but use my personal twitter. I also rarely tweet outside of the auto prompt accompanied with a new blog entry.
        I have found that when I include related hashtags I recieve traffic from twitter along with new followers. I think there are many more people NOT like you & I – who use twitter to keep up with whats important to them…like your blog posts. 🙂

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      2. i can say for twitter, you have to use it to gain followers. people have to see a value in following you. whether you are witty or sharing info. it takes time.

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